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After a four-year absence, Marilyn Manson has returned to the public eye in the video for "Heart-Shaped Glasses," porking his barely legal girlfriend in a rain of blood. That kind of flashy, trashy imagery may prevent Manson from ever being taken seriously as a credible artist (at least by the indie-leaning cognoscenti who blog the praises of Radiohead and the Arcade Fire), though he deserves it.
Manson's new arena tour features an unlikely pairing, though they're two of the only bestselling artists to use the word "antichrist" in a song tile. Manson is on the road with Slayer, the undisputed kings of old-school thrash, whose guitarist Kerry King has verbally (and musically) laid headbanger icons such as Megadeth and Metallica to whale shit. Surely, he has some hilarious, venomous barbs for Manson the fur stole-wearing vampire-boy who's as responsible for the Hot Topic aesthetic as anybody else in the business right? Actually, King says he's pretty cool.
"To do the things he does, you can't just be an idiot," King says, taking a call from his hotel room in Nantes, France. "He's a pretty intelligent dude."
He is. In the dark days after grunge died, Manson helped reinvigorate heavy music. The Antichrist Superstar may have burned brightest on 2000's underrated Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death). In the single "Fight Song," he seethed, "I'm not a slave to a god that doesn't exist," and he was the only artist associated with nü-metal to even hint at metaphysical matters. The empty-soul existentialism from Mechanical Animalsreached fruition in "Disposable Teens," a staccato "Beautiful People" rehash with some genuinely poetic lyrics. Let the Gen X-ers wear ironic sweaters; teen spirit had a new smell.
King and Manson first met at a recent photo shoot for metal mag Revolver. There, they quickly bonded over cups of absinthe, chatting about snakes. King says the co-headliners have mutual respect, but they're not necessarily big fans of each other. It just seemed like a cool tour. Each will perform a 70-minute set. Manson will go on last (following Slayer's legendary intense stage presence is preferable to having Slayerheads chuck bottles at you throughout your set).
"People ask me how I think this tour is going to go," says King, who's surprisingly chipper for a guy with "God Hates Us All" tattooed down the length of his left arm. "And it depends what Manson brings to the party. He could play a set from Holy Wood on, or mix it up and hit the whole audience. We [just saw the band] at a festival. And four songs in, they played the song I wanted to see, 'Irresponsible Hate Anthem.' And I'm, like, 'Cool, I can leave now.'"
But word has it that Manson's playing three boring, soft-assed new electro-tainted songs for each razor-riff ripper. Kerry, we'll see you at the bar.